THE CROZ: Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man



meavatar2BY JONATHAN VALANIA In advance of his headlining appearance at the 2019 Philadelphia Folk Festival next week, and upon the release of Cameron Crowe’s acclaimed documentary, David Crosby: Remember My Name (now playing @ Ritz 5), we got Mr. Crosby (The Byrds, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young) on the horn. DISCUSSED: Choice chapeaus, kool capes, walrus mustaches, marijuana, Cameron Crowe, Monterey Pop, Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, that badass hat he’s wearing in the “Eight Miles High” video, The Wrecking Crew, Terry Melcher, seeing John Coltrane blow mad horn in a men’s in Chicago while on LSD, The Sky Trails Band, Chris Thile and the last song that knocked his motherfucking socks off.

PHAWKER: First of all, it’s a great pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for all the great music over the years. I just watched the documentary. Really loved it. I know you’ve done a lot of press for this and probably had to answer a lot of the same questions over and over again. So I’m gonna ask you some questions that are a little bit more off the beaten, if that’s alright with you, and this will be a little bit more fun.Crosby_Hat

DAVID CROSBY: Yeah, sure. Do anything you like.

PHAWKER: First of all, I want to talk about some of your looks as a young man. I wanted to ask you about, first, the origin of the walrus mustache, which has been sort of your–

DAVID CROSBY: It just appeared on my lip. I don’t know. It grew there, and I didn’t know what to do. You know, I’ve had it for a long time, and I love it.

PHAWKER: Was that like a Wyatt Earp thing, or?

DAVID CROSBY: No, man, it just grew on my lip!

PHAWKER: Okay. Alright. I wanted to ask you a little bit about some of the clothes that you wore in The Byrds — I’m a big fan of The Byrds. That flat wide-brimmed cowboy hat you wore in the “Eight Miles High” video? That is one of the greatest looks of the 1960s anyone had going.

DAVID CROSBY: Now, listen, it was a Borsalino — an Italian hat that I squashed down to the ground into a cowboy hat.

PHAWKER: Crushing it down really made the difference. It was a really cool look. I mean Tom Petty was rocking that hat, in tribute, many years later. The cape. Where did the cape come from? Or what was the inspiration for that?

DAVID CROSBY: Friend of mine. I was living in Chicago on Wells Street, and it was very cold and I had an old coat that wasn’t really very good and I had a leather-maker friend. John Brown. He was in a place called Piper’s Alley on Wells Street, and he made me that cape, and I loved it, and I wore it all the time.

PHAWKER: The cape was made of leather?


PHAWKER: What’s the story behind the furry hat you were rockin’ towards the end of your tenure in The Byrds?Crosby_Cape

DAVID CROSBY: It was a furry hat. I can’t take all the fashion questions too seriously, because I don’t take fashion very seriously. I’m so not a fashionable person. But yeah, it was just a good Russian hat. You know, one of those rabbit fur hats.

PHAWKER: But do you remember where you saw it? In a store? Where did it come from?

DAVID CROSBY: I don’t really think about all that stuff very much, man…

PHAWKER: Well, I know you don’t, but that’s why I’m asking. Work with me here, I’m going somewhere with this.

DAVID CROSBY: Okay [laughs].

PHAWKER: Alright, so, moving onwards. Tell me about that night that Dylan played with The Byrds at Ciro’s. What do you remember about that, or what can you tell me? Set the scene a little bit.

DAVID CROSBY: You know, he was coming around, when he was in L.A. and he knew that we were there. He came around to see us and played with us a couple of times, I think. He came to the studio to see us. He came to Ciro’s to see us and actually sat in with us. You know, he was a hero, to us and to the crowd. So, for him to show up was like a blessing on our hands. It was really totally wonderful.

PHAWKER: The Wrecking Crew played the instrumental track for “Mr. Tambourine Man” because producer Terry Melcher, the story goes, did not feel that The Byrds’ chops were up to it.

DAVID CROSBY: That was how things were done, you know, and CBS didn’t know any other way to do it. That’s how you did it. So they went ahead and did that, and then, we told them “no, we’re not gonna do it that way,” and I told them that “we were gonna play the music or we’re not gonna do the records for you” and it was a kind of discussion there, but they didn’t really have much choice. After that, we played everything.

PHAWKER: Okay. “Eight Miles High.” I was reading somewhere that you contributed one line-

DAVID CROSBY: Are we gonna do…this is like…I don’t have…You only have about four minutes left, man. Are you sure you want to do ancient history?

PHAWKER: Yes, I want to do ancient history. I thought we have until ten after?

DAVID CROSBY: Okay. Keep going, keep going, keep going, if you don’t want to talk about modern stuff.

PHAWKER: “Eight Miles High.” What is the one line that you contributed to that song? Is that not true?

DAVID CROSBY: Oh, that is not true. So, next.

PHAWKER: I’m sorry, that’s not true?

DAVID CROSBY: Yeah, that’s not true. I contributed more than one line. Next?

PHAWKER: Okay. Well, what do you want to talk about?crosby-1068x708

DAVID CROSBY: These four records in a row that have just been- that are some of the best work I’ve ever done in my life. The fifth one that I’m halfway through- the documentary that Cameron Crowe just made on me that’s gotten the most amazing reviews I’ve ever gotten. Ever. For anything. And that’s about it.

PHAWKER: Let’s talk about it.

DAVID CROSBY: Yeah, that would be good. There’s other stuff than ancient history, man. I know it fascinates you, but it doesn’t fascinate me at all.

PHAWKER: David, it’s not my job to fascinate you, my job is to ask you questions that will be of interest to my readers. Okay. Well, go ahead. Talk about your new album.

DAVID CROSBY: Yeah, well. There’s four in a row: Croz, Lighthouse, Sky Trails and Here If You Listen. And they’re four of the best records I’ve ever made. There are two bands. The Lighthouse band is the acoustic one. That’s me, Mike League, Becca Stevens, and Michelle Willis. The other band is the Sky Trails band. That’s the electric one. That’s me, my son James Raymond on keyboard- he’s the producer- Jeff Pevar on guitar, Stevie DiStanislao on drums- he’s Gilmour’s drummer. And Mai Leisz playing bass. She comes from a Jazz band in Scandinavia. She’s a fantastic player. And Michelle Willis again, she’s in both bands. That’s the acoustic band. That’s the electric band. And that’s the one I’m working with again. I alternate back and forth. Sky Trails was electric. Lighthouse was acoustic.

PHAWKER: Got it. All of my questions are about the past, but you don’t seem to be interested in answering questions about the past…

DAVID CROSBY: Well, okay, then go for it. Just go for a couple more of them, then we’ll get out of here.

PHAWKER: Alright. Sounds good. You filled in for Neil Young during Buffalo Springfield’s set at Monterey Pop. Why was Neil Young MIA? Is there a story behind that?

DAVID CROSBY: Got me. You have to ask Neil.

PHAWKER: He just didn’t show?

DAVID CROSBY: You know, I don’t know, man. That’s between Stephen and Neil. You have to ask them.



PHAWKER: Okay, give me their phone numbers.

DAVID CROSBY: Don’t have ‘em.

PHAWKER: Do you remember the first time you did any kind of drug?

DAVID CROSBY: Yeah, absolutely. I was driving Travis Edmonson, a folk singer that used to be in a band called Bud & Travis. I was driving him to a dinner thing, and he and the bass player and the drummer were sitting in the back. They were smoking a joint, and I said “What are you guys smoking?” And I said, “That smells good.” And they said, “Oh, nothing.” And I said, “Ah, that’s that marijuana stuff, is it?” And they said, “Oh, nothing.” And I said, “Gimme some of that.” So they did. And I liked it.

PHAWKER: What year are we talking about here?

DAVID CROSBY: I don’t know. Way back. Probably about 1906.

PHAWKER: [laughs] Alright. And seeing John Coltrane when you were a young man, and the story that you relay in Remember My Name about going to see John Coltrane in Chicago when you were on acid and the men’s room door blowing open from the force of his horn. Are you exaggerating for effect that the sound that was coming off the stage blew the door open, or was Coltrane actually coming into the men’s room when you were in there?

DAVID CROSBY: He kicked the door open and played in the men’s room. He like the sound of his horn bouncing off the tile walls.

PHAWKER: Wow, and you just happened to be in there taking a leak or whatever?

DAVID CROSBY: I happened to be in there trying to get myself back under control. I was so high. I couldn’t stand, and I was like freaking out. I was leaning against the wall, trying to calm myself down, and the door blows open and it’s him. Blowing at full strength.

PHAWKER: That’s a fucking amazing story. Alright moving on, you are a man who’s led a very full and storied life. I’m sure there are regrets along the way. If there is one thing that you could go back in time and fix, and do otherwise, what would it be?

DAVID CROSBY: Hard drugs. I wouldn’t do them. Complete waste of time.

PHAWKER: You would’ve stopped at marijuana and psychedelics?

DAVID CROSBY: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. You know, marijuana and psychedelics, no problem. Coke and heroin, absolutely will kill you, they do it slowly. Death on wheels. There isn’t any good part about it.

PHAWKER: Okay, let’s bring this back to 2019, to end on. What was the last new thing, or new album, or new band, or new song that you heard that, you know, knocked your socks off?

DAVID CROSBY: That might have been Chris Thile. He’s got a song called “I Made This For You” that I love a great deal. There’s a new one that I’m With Her did, called “Call My Name,” that’s unbelievably beautiful.

PHAWKER: I will make sure to check out both of these, and hopefully our readers will do likewise. I guess we’ll just leave it there then. Alright, thank you for your time.

DAVID CROSBY: Thank you very much.